The Scarlet Letter

In The Scarlet Letter, what does Mr. Dimmesdale mean when he says it expresses a vast power of restraint?

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Dimmesdale doesn't actually say this, rather it is said about him. It means that he carefully considered his words before speaking, and in this instance refused to speak anything. Obviously, we know WHY he will not confront Hester for her 'sin', but to the crowed he seems more pious than ever for his refusal to confront the sinner and make her confess.